This Company is Solving Last Mile Connectivity Issues in India by Relying on Retailers

The company believes that a human touch is required for consumers who do not understand digitization of finance

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For anyone who has grown up in a small town, a lot of their childhood memories include running to the nearest kirana shop for goodies. That and running errands like getting the bills cleared from the kirana shop uncle or even getting a mobile recharge done. The local retailer often becomes a part of the extended family, establishing a relationship with almost every other member.

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Banking on this relationship that exists beyond pen and paper, Payworld is growing its business. An assisted wallet company, Payworld offers a host of financial services to its consumers. They have offered their plethora of technologies to retailers across India, who in turn offers services to their consumers to help them make payments, take loans, book tickets and even, invest in mutual funds.

Entrepreneur India caught up with Praveen Dhabhai, COO, Payworld as he spoke about the changing payments landscape in India.

From Top-ups to Doing it All

A recent survey by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services found that 76 per cent Indian adults do not adequately understand key financial concepts. Payworld, which is a part of Sugal & Damani Group, came into place when the players in the retail industry were getting into mobile top-ups or recharges, and they started enabling the same, slowly progressing into digitizing services. Realizing that a huge segment of India still doesn't understand online financial services or transactions, they turned to provide assistance to them.

Counting on the relationship between retailers and consumers, they set up retail points across the country, where people could go and use financial services to pay their bills or carry out other transactions. "We developed the technology platform and made it available for retailers to offer to their consumers. We have built over 100,000 retail points across India and through them have us garner 24 million users. Every retailer has a catchment area and the people within that become our consumers," said Dhabhai. Over the last year, they have logged in 80 million transactions.

Having acquired an insurance corporate license, they have begun pilot projects to offer insurance and mutual funds services. By partnering with NBFCs, they are also offering loans. "We have created a score point based on the transactions of the consumers, which decides their loan taking capabilities. We are bringing about targeted products according to the data we have collected from their transactions," said Dhabhai.

While Dabai is pushing for financial inclusion with technology, he believes it also requires a human touch for consumers who do not understand digitization of finance.

Bringing Retailers on Board - A Challenge

While the market size is huge for their product, it also offers a challenge. Given the vast expanse of retailers across India, acquiring them for Payworld was a difficult task. "We built a field force and tied up with distributors to reach out to retailers in the country," he said.

However, the next challenge lay in educating these people about their product. So, the next step was to create awareness and make the retailers understand their product. "We train the retailers to meet the required digital needs of consumers. We also have call centers for them to reach out to us," said Dhabhai.

While there exists competition, Dabai believes that given the huge size of this market, everyone has their own market share.

The Road Ahead

The Indian payments space has changed a lot over the years. Dhabhai, who is a graduate from BITS Pilani and has worked in various global companies in IT and business development, believes that over the years people have started trusting digital payments. In the coming years, they plan to increase their retail points to over 300,000, while aiming for INR 25,000 cr annual transactions (it is currently INR 4,500 cr).

"With the government's initiatives like Aadhar Pay, the trust is only going to increase. During demonetization, there was a 20X surge in our transactions. While after that, it was normal growth again, exciting times lie ahead," he said.